The Corner

Be Careful What You Sign

I just got off the phone with Representative Bachmann, and her perplexity and frustration were palpable. She said that the Left and the media (I repeat myself) are all over this story partly because her vigorous advocacy for Governor Romney undermines the president’s “war on women” story line regarding Republicans.

But on the substance of the issue, it was clear she saw this as just a matter of her kids’ heritage through their father: “It’s a pride-in-the-family thing,” she said. One of her sons had spent time with relatives in Switzerland and heard about the opportunity for acquiring Swiss citizenship and thought it would be “cool” to pursue it. Part of the application with Swiss consular authorities in the U.S. required the parents’ signatures — Bachmann described it as merely “updating” an existing status. As she put it, one of her staff said, “Here’s the paperwork, sign this”, and she figured it wasn’t anything new so she signed it.

I can see how she could have stumbled into this, but I’m afraid this doesn’t change anything. Passive dual citizenship is out of your control and a matter of no consequence in itself. Switzerland may well have considered her to have become a dual citizen upon her marriage (though this FAQ from the Swiss government suggests there’s nothing automatic about it now). But signing a document acknowledging the status conferred on you by another is an affirmative act, however innocent it may have seemed at the time. (If one of my kids came to me asking I sign some Armenian government form enabling them to register as a dual citizen, my answer would have been “are you crazy?”)

I didn’t think to ask and can’t follow up right now because I have to run, but this would seem easily fixable by writing to the Swiss foreign ministry politely asking that they not consider her a Swiss citizen.